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After a golf course closes, neighbors raise the money to preserve the open space – The Arizona Republic

ORO VALLEY — The Rancho Vistoso golf course teemed with life.  

Situated a few miles north of Tucson, it stretched across more than 200 acres and was visited by golfers durin…….


ORO VALLEY — The Rancho Vistoso golf course teemed with life.  

Situated a few miles north of Tucson, it stretched across more than 200 acres and was visited by golfers during the day and mule deer and javelina at night.  

Famed golf course architect Tom Weiskopf designed it as a desert course. If it weren’t for the golfers and the signs, it might almost have resembled a desert botanical garden at times. Cholla, barrel and prickly pear cactuses encircled signs for the driving range and holes. Palo verde and mesquite trees and other desert vegetation grew scattered throughout the greens. 

The course meandered through 17 neighborhoods. Town residents held parties and weddings at the clubhouse, and those who didn’t attend could sometimes still hear the music’s echo from their houses. 

But when the course closed in 2018 and the water was shut off, the thirsty greens began to fade.  

It didn’t take long for speculation about development to spread among Oro Valley’s residents and a year and a half later, the redevelopment plans began rolling into the city council office. 

Some suggested housing developments, another a nursing home. Several neighbors cringed at the thought of bulldozers near their homes and the loss of an open space abundant with native plant and animal species. They wanted the golf course to become a nature preserve.  

So they got to work. Over the next three and a half years, they would speak with land transaction lawyers and send over 1,000 emails to the city’s planning and zoning department. Eventually, they raised $1.8 million and worked with the Conservation Fund to purchase the property.

With the money, the group and the fund were able to create the town’s first nature preserve.

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While the council and developers considered alternatives, many neighbors had already decided the former golf course was a preserve. They started — illegally — traversing the 208-acre property by foot, on bikes, with dogs and strollers.  

“People just took to it. It was like an organic process,” said Rosa Dailey, whose house is next to the golf course. “It was private property, but people were like, ‘No, this is a park!’” 

The 18-hole course had closed in 2018 from financial problems. Golf courses …….

Source: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-environment/2022/03/28/outside-tucson-neighbors-turn-golf-course-into-nature-preserve/9428480002/

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